The Living Book

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The great Architect of the universe conceived and produced a being endowed with both natures, the visible and the invisible. God created the human being, bringing its body forth from the pre-existing matter which he animated with his own Spirit… Thus in some way a new universe was born, small and great at one and the same time. God set this “hybrid” worshipper on earth to contemplate the visible world, and to be initiated into the invisible; to reign over earth’s creatures, and to obey orders from on high. He created a being at once earthly and heavenly, insecure and immortal, visible and invisible, halfway between greatness and nothingness, flesh and spirit at the same time… an animal en route to another native land, and, most mysterious of all, made to resemble God by simple submission to the Divine will.

Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – 390)

The greatest part of mankind, nay, of all Christians, may be said to be asleep. That particular way of life, which takes up each man’s mind, thoughts and actions, may be very well called his particular dream. The learned and the ignorant, the rich and the poor, are all in the same state of slumber, passing away a short life in a different kind of dream.

William Law (1686 – 1761)

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss[ess];
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936)

Everything comes if a man will only wait. I’ve brought myself by long meditation to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will that will stake even existence for it’s fulfillment.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881)

Now understand me well — it is provided in the essence of things that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary… the road is before us! It is safe… I have tried it.

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)

And it is in this darkness, when there is nothing left in us that can please or comfort our own minds, when we seem to be useless and worthy of all contempt, when we seem to have failed, when we seem to be destroyed and devoured, it is then that the deep and secret selfishness that is too close to us for us to identify is stripped away from our souls. It is in this darkness that we find liberty. It is in this abandonment that we are made strong. This is the night which empties us and makes us pure.

Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968)

This power demands of us what alone is certain and rational and possible… which is possible only in the truth, and, therefore, in the recognition of the truth revealed to us, and the profession of that truth.

Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

Keep my secret, you who are kept by it.
Keep my faith, you who are kept by it.
Learn what I know, you whom my truth has known.
Love me with love, you whom I have loved.
Pray without ceasing, dwell in the love of the Lord,
you who are loved in the Well-beloved,
you who are living in the Living one,
saved by him who has redeemed you.
So will you escape from death, throughout all ages,
in the name of your Father. Alleluia!

Odes of Solomon (circa 1st-century A.D.)

Without this effort we fall every moment, prone and lifeless, into the overwhelming stream of time and event, and the circle of our reactions. For at every moment we can sink down into our habitual state of consciousness — where no integration is possible — where, indeed, we are, and can only be, divided up into innumerable little contradictory parts, which continually steal us from ourselves. Then we lie asleep in appearances, lost to ourselves, for then the sense of ourselves is derived only from the ever-changing response to the flicker of appearances. Then every event carries us away. Every event fastens its mouth upon our energy and consumes it. Life carries us away, now up, then down.

Maurice Nicoll (1884 – 1953)

We have no right to believe that our ordinary level of consciousness is the highest form of consciousness, or the sole mode of experience possible to man. We cannot say that the range of the internal experience of oneself is necessarily limited either to dream-states or to ordinary consciousness. We have to consider the possibility, not only that there is a level above our ordinary level of consciousness, to which we are only occasionally awakened, but that our ordinary consciousness becomes integrated into a larger system when this happens.

Maurice Nicoll (1884 – 1953)